Articles authored by Sonu Varghese

No! Saudi Arabia is Not Ending Any “Petrodollar Pact”

Fake news alert: Saudi Arabia is not going to stop selling oil in US dollars (USD), and they’re not ending any petrodollar pact. In fact, there is no petrodollar pact, secret or otherwise. So, there’s nothing to renew (or not renew). Nor is there any “paradigm shift” shift in global finance. The rather mundane truth …

Inflation Is Headed Lower, and That Means Rate Cuts Are Coming

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) report was a welcome “surprise” after a string of uncomfortably hot inflation reports. I put quotes around the word surprise, because in January and April, there was nothing within the inflation data or outside of it (e.g. inflation expectations, wage growth data) that suggested inflation was on a persistently higher …

May Payrolls Tell Us the Consumer Is Not Weakening

Job growth continues to catch most people by surprise, rising 272,000 in May. That was well above expectations for a 180,000 gain. In fact, “whisper” expectations (as much as one can glean from online chatter amongst economists and strategies) seemed to be tilted to a downside surprise, perhaps close to 150,000. Mostly because we’ve had …

Consumer Confidence Is Likely Low Because Americans Are Stuck

Poor consumer confidence has been bit of a puzzle recently, given historically low unemployment and easing inflation. In fact, the “misery index,” which is the sum of the inflation rate and the unemployment rate, looks quite normal. It sits at 7.3% as of April, which is below the historical average (1950-2023) of 9.3%. Meanwhile, consumer …

Big Picture: There’s No Inflation Resurgence

Hotter-than-expected inflation data in the first quarter led to a lot of concern that inflation is likely to rear its ugly head again. However, as I pointed out in several blogs over the first few months of the year (including two weeks ago), there was really no need to panic if you just peeked under …

Data Has Shown Most American Households Have Come Out Ahead of Inflation

Home prices and stock prices have risen to record levels, and as Ryan just wrote about, consumer balance sheets are in really good shape. Yet the title of this blog is likely quite controversial, especially since we just had the highest inflationary episode in over 40+ years and consumer sentiment suggests people aren’t happy about …

Here’s Why We’re Still Pessimistic About China and Underweight Chinese Stocks

There’s been a lot of a chatter about China’s stock market recently, thanks to strong momentum. Chinese stocks (proxied by the iShares MSCI China ETF) are up over 18% over the past 5 weeks, versus a 5.5% return for the S&P 500. Of course, if you pull back the curtain to the last decade you …

How We’re Positioning Portfolios in a High Interest Rate Environment

It’s been a cliché to say interest rates are going to be higher for longer, especially with markets pulling back expectations for rates cuts quite significantly over the last 4 months, thanks to hotter than expected inflation data. Our team had always been in the camp that we were unlikely to see more than 0.75%-points …

This Is Why We’re (Still) Not Worried About an Inflation Resurgence

There’s no question that the inflation data in the first quarter was uncomfortably hot. But as we highlighted over the past several months, there were good reasons not to panic about another sustained upswing in inflation. I wrote about this when the January, February, and March consumer price index (CPI) reports were released. It was …

Our Leading Economic Indicators Still Point to a Strong Economy

We recently got a couple of softer than expected economic report cards – Q1 GDP growth and the April payroll report – and suddenly we’re hearing more about an impending recession. In fact, the combination of these reports with hotter than expected inflation in Q1, has raised chatter about the dreaded “stagflation” scenario, i.e. low …

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